Spicy Peanut Stew Recipe | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Spicy Peanut Stew

“The basis of all African meals is a soupy stew served with a starch,” explains Jessica B. Harris, culinary historian and author of The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent. This West African version gets its distinctive taste from creamy peanut butter and chile-laced chopped tomatoes.



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2 Tbs. olive oil
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1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
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1 celery stalk, chopped (about ½ cup)
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1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
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2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
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1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
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1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles
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1 lb. butternut or acorn squash, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
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½ lb. cauliflower florets (about 4 cups)
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¼ cup creamy peanut butter
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6 cups cooked brown rice
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1 head watercress, stems removed


1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Stir in ginger and garlic, and cook 5 minutes more, or until vegetables are soft.

2. Add potato and tomatoes. Increase heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes, or until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in 2 cups water, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer partially covered, 10 minutes. Add squash and cauliflower, and cook 15 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender.

4. Whisk together peanut butter and ½ cup warm water in small bowl. Add to stew, and cook 4 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly. Spoon over rice, and top with watercress.

Nutrition Information: 

11 g
Total Fat: 
12 g
Saturated Fat: 
2 g
71 g
0 mg
770 mg
9 g
7 g
Serves 6

Comments on this Recipe

made recipe as listed, but did 1/2 cup peanut butter. It was delicious! Will definitely add to repertoire!

I told my husband that I was making him a macrobiotic type meal just to set him wondering if I'd gone "south' on him or not and then he tried the Spicy Peanut Stew and couldn't believe how good it was and told me it was a "keeper" (his way of saying please make it again). I loved it too, but knew by the ingredients that I would.

I found this recipe to be a bit bland, and so made some modifications - I used more like 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter to make the taste closer to the African peanut stews I've eaten in the past (with a very peanuty-flavor). Additionally, I added a diced red bell pepper, a package of frozen butternut squash puree to thicken, omitted the rice and watercress, and cooked a bit longer for a thicker, richer texture. I also added a lot of spices (as I felt the taste was bland): red pepper flakes, cayenne, Old Bay, cinnamon, powdered ginger, and a splash of cider vinegar). The result was very tasty and hearty. This recipe is easily adaptable, so don't be afraid to add flavor if you'd like!

I've made this a number of times over several years. Comments have been consistently good, including praise from a Senegalese friend. I agree with Jacquelyn that more peanut butter is needed and I use what is in the market here in Santo Domingo.

Are you sure the nutritional values are correct for six servings? With only 1/4c of peanut butter, and 1 cup of brown rice per serving and the rest of the ingredients are veggies, the calories, fat and sodium values seem high.

I have made a version of them many, many times over the years. I omit the celery, use fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, and add sambal oelek, coconut milk, and chopped kale. It's one of my favorite soups made this way.

I made this recipe with a few additions tonight and I already can't wait to make it again. At the advice of previous reviewers I added a few more flavorful elements to my stew. With the ginger and garlic I included some finely chopped cilantro stems and a deseeded jalapeno, and to the celery and onion I added some carrots for a true mirepoix. I also doubled the amount of peanut butter and used veggie broth in place of the water. A sprinkle of cinnamon added that certain something that made this recipe a real winner. Using this recipe as a starting point one could customize it to their taste in endless variations and each would be delicious. I imagine I will make this recipe many more times this fall, and you should too!

Vegetable Stew recipe! Yum!

We had to cook this about 20 minutes longer than it called for--15 minutes on simmer won't cook butternut squash. I also added additional spices: berbere and cayenne.

This is delicious. I added chick peas that I had cooked with dried chilis, star anise, smoked salt, tumeric, ginger, coriander, and cumin (I always throw in a bunch of spices like these when I cook beans in my pressure cooker).

Love this! After the first time, I tweaked it by upping the onion, celery, ginger and peanut butter, using fresh tomatoes, no chiles, using broth rather than water, and skipping the rice. The cool cucumber sauce (really a salsa) is a fantastic contrasting condiment -especially for someone who has to forgo all chiles and most hot spices- the lime juice and ginger are lovely explosions of flavor on the sweet veggies and peanut butter. I made this a day ahead for a dinner party, warmed it up while I chopped up the salsa, and the smells were so lively, everyone was intrigued...they loved it!

The West African Peanut Stew is AMAZING! I made it last night for a dinner party and everyone loved it. It was very easy to make and tasted devine. Thanks for sharing!